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ORGANIC FIBERS

ORGANIC COTTON


Cotton accounts for 35% of world fiber and 17.5% of insecticide sales, but only a small fraction—about 1%—is organic.


What makes organic cotton different is that it is grown as part of a balanced ecosystem. Soil is enriched with compost, creating healthy plants that attract fewer pests. Instead of using petroleum-based herbicides and pesticides, farmers pull weeds, trap bugs, rotate crops and use companion plantings such as corn to attract beneficial bugs and lure away pests. Here is a close-up look at the differences between organic and conventional cotton farming.


Field To Factory: Organic Cotton

  ORGANIC FARMING CONVENTIONAL FARMING

SEEDS Natural, untreated. Not genetically modified, which means there are no patent laws prohibiting farmers from collecting, saving and replanting seeds. Typically treated with fungicides or insecticides. GM seeds used for 87% of US cotton. Patent laws require farmers to buy new GM seeds every year, increasing their costs.


SOIL MANAGEMENT Crop rotation and composting promote soil health. Organic matter retains moisture. Monoculture (consistent planting of one crop) depletes nutrients in soil, synthetic fertilizers necessary. 


WEED & INSECT MANAGEMENT Healthy soil creates stronger plants that are more resistant to pests and disease. Companion crops lure harmful insects or attract beneficial bugs. Spraying of pesticides. The five most commonly used pesticides are either suspected carcinogens or neurotoxins.


HARVESTING Natural defoliation from freezing temperatures or water management. Defoliation with toxic chemicals.



WELL-BEING Healthier environment for farm workers. Cotton byproducts—plant waste, ground seeds for livestock feed, oil for processed food—are not contaminated with chemicals. High risk of worker health issues. Fertilizers and pesticides pollute water, soil and food supply.

 
 
  ORGANIC PRICE CONVENTIONAL PRICE

  Initial cost is more expensive. Consumers make a long-term investment in the environment and human health. Initial cost cheaper because doesn't include impact on planet and people.